In a hearing earlier this month, Bellows heard challenges to Trump’s eligibility for the primary ballot. Several people, including three former state officials, have argued the former president is ineligible under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which says anyone who took an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution but then “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” may no longer hold office.
“The events of January 6, 2021 were unprecedented and tragic,” Bellows wrote in reference to the Trump-fueled insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. “They were an attack not only upon the Capitol and government officials, but also an attack on the rule of law. The evidence here demonstrates that they occurred at the behest of, and with the knowledge and support of the outgoing President.”
“I do not reach this conclusion lightly,” she wrote toward the end of her decision. “Democracy is sacred … I am mindful that no Secretary of State has ever deprived a presidential candidate of ballot access based on Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment. I am also mindful, however, that no presidential candidate has ever before engaged in insurrection.”
Another argument Bellows heard claimed Trump is ineligible under the 22nd Amendment, which says no one can be elected president more than twice. (Trump continues to insist he won the 2020 presidential election against Democrat Joe Biden.) However, Bellows shot down this argument.
Bellows’ decision comes just over a week after Colorado’s Supreme Court ruled Trump was ineligible for the presidency and disqualified him from the state’s primary ballot under the 14th Amendment, citing his actions on Jan. 6.
Bellows was initially set to make an announcement on Dec. 22, but delayed her decision after Colorado released its ruling, allowing for additional arguments on his eligibility in Maine from both sides.
Trump’s legal team has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case.
In a statement reacting to Bellows’ decision, Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung slammed her as “a former ACLU attorney, a virulent leftist and a hyper-partisan Biden-supporting Democrat who has decided to interfere in the presidential election on behalf of Crooked Joe Biden.”
Trump’s eligibility for office is currently being legally challenged in at least 16 states, according to The New York Times.